Sunday, February 23, 2020

Brief Foray Into US-American Politics

So, I'm sorta semi-blogging. (More than I was a year ago anyway.) And, being Canadian, I should be (and have been) posting about the waves of vile, self-pitying, hypocritical and murderous racism, that emerge from not too far beneath the surface of our collective psyche whenever people from the First Nations oppose anything that we want to impose on them. (Obviously, there's vicious, day-to-day racism going on in Canada, but it's things such as the Wet'suwet'en blockade or "Idle No More" or Chief Theresa Spence's hunger-strike, that gets Canadian fingers flying over keyboards about how we need to shoot Natives enmasse; or run them over with trains; or how their protests are "terrorism" and etc.)

But since my blogging doesn't influence things one way or the other, and, since the USA remains the most powerful, influential country in the world (with our sharing a border and many cultural commonalities with it), I think that Bernie Sanders' big primary win in Nevada is something I should comment upon.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

So Much Is Wrong With The World

This country breaks my heart. The Wet’suwet’en are trying to defend their lands and half the country are being assholes about it. Literally talking pieces of shit like Andy Scheer and Jason ("perverted altarboy") Kenney are stinking up the room with their racist conspiracy theories. Justin Trudeau and the gang are pretending that there's nothing they can do, while pretending that they're NOT doing the same old colonialism they've always done. The BC NDP are sucking whatever rancid genitalia (mostly dick, considering the composition of the ruling class's executives) that capitalism is shoving in their faces.

Listen people; we've gone over 125 years without needing this pipeline. It ain't our land. (I just remembered some shit-head on Fazebuck somewhere claiming that British Columbia already owned all the land before Confederation. If there was anything to that, it should have been brought before the Supreme Court before they wrote the Delgamuukw Decision.) And fracking is expensive and ecologically unsound.  (They're fracking beside a hydro-electric dam fer chrissakes!) And on top of all that, fracking is only going to accelerate global warming. And on top of THAT fracking is uneconomic.

So, once again, I find myself assuredly on the side of the First Nations, and the RULE OF LAW, ... against simpering corporatist shit-heads and irredeemable racists.

And another thing that grinds my gears: Who, at this stage of the game, can still believe that the USA is "a force for good in the world"????

I actually got the appeal of the whole World War II/Cold War thing. I'm not saying it was ironclad, but there was a compelling narrative there. But the needless slaughter, hypocrisy and stupidity and villainy of the US War on Vietnam really took the wind out of its sails. After that, if you were paying attention, US-American depredations in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chile, Angola, Haiti, and Australia (and elsewhere) just confirmed things for you. But most people DON'T pay attention. And those atrocities were small enough to hide without too much trouble.

But Jeeziz Kee-Rice-ST!!! They've been in Afghanistan for almost TWENTY FUCKING YEARS!!!! Not only is that country NOT a thriving democracy, ... it remains a war-torn basket-case!! Listen people: It's actually not all that hard to make a poor country work. The people have VERY LOW expectations.

Look what those monsters (including the divine vagina of Hillary Clinton ... or is it Hillary's gender that was supposed to make that grifter/war criminal a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?) have done to Iraq! And Libya! And Syria! And Honduras! Bolivia! And their own fucking country!!!

Get a ticket for the "Clue Train" people! The same politicians who want to deny you healthcare (whether it's some scum-bag like Donald Trump, Pete Buttigieg, or Doug-"please die soon"-Ford), OBVIOUSLY can't be wantin' to do good things for people in other countries.

And what's up with the level of shit-headerry needed to vote for a puke like Doug Fraudord anyway?? This is that garbage culture I've been talking about lately. It's what I'm talking about NOW!! Fucking Ford! Fucking Kenney! Scum. Elected by ignoramuses and total morons.

Friday, February 14, 2020

The Cursed NDP & Canada's Garbage Culture

Back here I made the mistake of thinking that the pipeline that the Wet’suwet’en were trying to stop was a bitumen pipleine from Alberta. And that was only because I'm such a starry-eyed idealist that I didn't want to believe that Canada was trying to impose TWO unwanted pipelines on these people. (It's also proof of what I've been saying for a long time: That I tend to ignore the news, what with the mainstream media being deceitful and with my ability to influence things being nil.)

A result of my ignorance was that I didn't properly indict the BC NDP for their major role in this atrocity. [Although I did say the following in that earlier post: "Coming in Third Place is the shit-head NDP that (as an institution) attempts to pander to the supporters of the other two parties by replicating as much of their stupid policies as its own membership can stomach"]

Still, that wasn't direct enough criticism. And so I draw your attention to this fine summary of the conflict: "Time to Tear off the Masks in the Media's Framing of the Horgan Pipeline Debacle" by Stuart Parker. He rightly lambastes the private sector actors, and the federal Liberals, but he also indicts the BC NDP especially the Solicitor-General Michael Farnworth.

I was going to quote a paragraph or two but the whole thing is intertwined with stuff about environmental policies and the enforcement of injunctions that I will simply advise you to read the whole essay.

My main point is that the NDP shows itself just as much a symptom of Canada's garbage culture as the Liberals and the Conservatives. (The Greens don't look too good either according to Parker.)

Speaking of garbage, Montreal Simon worries that the protests by First Nations and their allies might "kill the Reconciliation Project"!!!!

Yes. You read that right. Protesting against a militarized RCMP assault on the Wet’suwet’en might endanger their becoming reconciled with us. (Obviously the inconveniences caused by these protests will cement racist, hypocritical, whining shit-heads' decision to remain unreconciled with the First Nations.) At one point in his simpering nonsense, Simon calls the protesters "louts and bullies" for blocking blood-soaked, anti-democratic, international abomination Crystia Freeland from attending a meeting.

Later on, in the comments section, Simon's supervisor, the detestable "Jackie Blue" babbles about Justin Trudeau: "There's only so much one man can do. He can't undo 500 years in 5."

You're right Jackie. Justin Trudeau can't undo 500 years of colonialism in 5 years. Especially when his policies are deliberately perpetuating that colonialism. You idiot.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Books I'm Reading These Days

All sorts of things going on in Canada and the world right now but I think I'll blog about my latest readings.

First of all, I read Vassily Grossman's Everything Flows.

I'm a big fan of Grossman. He was born into a secular Russian Jewish family in the1905. He was first a chemist and then began a career as a novelist and short-story writer in the 1930s. He volunteered for the Red Army after the German invasion of the Soviet Union and was given a job as a war correspondent for the Red Star army newspaper where he covered everything from the army's near-collapse to the battles of Staingrad, Kursk and the fall of Berlin.  I've read Life & Fate (the second part of his World War II epic) and A Writer at War (a collection of his wartime writings edited by Antony Beevor and Luba Vinogradova). [Part one to Life & Fate was originally released as For a Just Cause and was criticized for its clunky Stalinist realism. Apparently there's a new translation based on suppressed writings now entitled Stalingrad which is better that I plan to read.]

Everything Flows was Grossman's last novel, finished four years before his death by stomach cancer in 1960, and it was never allowed to be published in the Soviet Union. Soviet authorities attempted to confiscate all the copies of his manuscript but it was smuggled out of the country and published in the West in 1980. Its main focus is on the thoughts and experiences of a man released from thirty years in the labour camps. It also contains a chapter on the sorts of people who denounce others and send them to the camps. There's a chapter about the inherent authoritarianism of both Lenin and Stalin and Russia's enslaved soul. A woman who befriends the main character gives him a first-hand account of Stalin's terror famine in the Ukraine. One chapter goes to a heartbreaking account of a woman sentenced to the labour camps for not having denounced her husband and how her small hopes of returning to her family are slowly killed within her.

In this work, as in Life & Fate, Grossman describes a society wherein people were afraid to speak freely. How even among colleagues or friends, one had to constantly monitor oneself. It's odd that nowadays, through surveillance technology we're all being spied upon, only our watchers don't really care what we think or say. They only need to move if we start to organize. There's a real cultural strength in our myths that Stalinism didn't have. But, we see it's starting to break down in France and in the USA.

Anyway, good book.

Next up is Detroit '67: the year that changed Soul by Stuart Cosgrove.

The book describes the social-economic-cultural milieu that produced Berry Gordy's MoTown Records and the tensions and struggles within the company in the year 1967 in half the book, while the other half deals with the wider conflicts going on inside Detroit itself which led to the five days of rioting in late-July. Cosgrove is a good writer who has a good eye for what was important for an understanding of this bit of history.

Finally, there's From Treaty Peoples to Treaty Nation: A Road Map for All Canadians, by Greg Poelzer and Ken S. Coates.

I can't say that I like it. Reading it I'm reminded of how Canadian academics (and many opinion writers) have this way of writing that uses dullness to obfuscate their nasty biases. They know that what they want to say is offensive so they drain their language of as much bile as they can and decorate what remains with soulless words meant to convey a patina of benevolence. (I'm tired and that's as hard as I'm going to try with that.)

Poelzer and Coates are still, nonetheless, pretty blatant in their biases. In surveys of the thoughts of Indigenous and non-Indigenous thinkers on First Nations issues, they use the word "radical" as a term of derision. Whether or not an argument for First Nations sovereignty is valid or not is of secondary importance to whether or not it is popular with the majority population in Canada. It's also quite evident when they're summarizing a writer or policy-maker who they're sympathetic to.

Here's a couple of examples of what I mean: On page 129, the first page of Chapter 6, they want to deliberately steer away from stories of First Nations sufferings to stories of positive achievement. I've no problem with that. But it takes a certain amount of hubris to do that the way they ended up doing it:
It is easy to get depressed about Aboriginal conditions in Canada. Scarcely a day passes without another sensational headline. If the story is not about impoverished conditions on a reserve then it is documenting urban violence, a child welfare crisis, or an Aboriginal protest.  Politicians routinely highlight the statistics of despair, and First Nations leaders, struggling to get the nation's attention, speak openly of endemic drug and alcohol abuse and decry the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in the prison system. And on it goes, [!] from a glue-sniffing epidemic at Davis Inlet to filthy water at Kashechewan, from corruption in Aboriginal organizations to the difficulties attracting teachers to isolated northern reserves, from unemployment rates above 90 percent on some reserves to bitter battles over child apprehensions and Aboriginal control over social welfare, from multimillion-dollar legal bills for fighting the government to gut-wrenching descriptions of the evil acts of pedophiles in residential schools. 
Again, I understand that Poelzer and Coates are going to be writing about how their are signs of First Nations resilience and achievement and how it isn't just a litany of suffering. But in presenting that list of tribulations the way that they do, instead of conveying that they're well aware of the nature and extent of the problems faced by First Nations people, they instead demonstrate that they have no clear conception of their significance. Furthermore, they seem at a loss as to the source of all or almost all of these problems, which is in the policies of the settler society.

Another instance of their bias comes in their brief summary of Chief Shawn Atleo's struggle to win acceptance of the 2014 First Nations Education Act. Like many mainstream academics. Poelzer and Coates have bought into the narrative of nation-states being irrelevant in the new world of globalized capital. (Increasingly, what with the massive military budgets, surveillance budgets, bail-outs and other supports of the "titans" of finance, this irrelevance is shown to be a myth. A myth to convince people that they can expect nothing from the states to which their incomes are taxed to support.)

The writers employ this myth to disparage the First Nations struggles for sovereignty, and recognition of their Treaty rights, and to shift the focus to "practical" reforms to make things better in the here and now. Atleo's work on behalf of the stephen harper government's First Nations Education Act is framed as that of a practical man, wanting to compromise and achieve real benefits for his people, being frustrated by unreconstructed firebrands: "In fact, opposition to his support for the government was so strong that Atleo felt compelled to resign his office. His successor, Chief Perry Bellegarde of Saskatchewan, ... favours a rights-based approach to government relations. The desire to fight with the government lives on."

Have no fear though, gentle readers, because (the paragraph continues): "Many Aboriginal people, however, are getting on with business."

The writers had earlier shown nothing but praise for stephen harper's empty words of apology for the residential schools tragedy. ("Talk is cheap" adequately explains why harper felt motivated to make that "historic" apology.) I went to find out more about this Education Act. This CBC story makes it sound as if its failure was merely due to a clash of personalities (similar to Poeler and Coates making it about First Nations "radicals" who would rather fight over empty words like "sovereignty" than achieve lasting benefits for their grassroots). One has to go to less mainstream sources to get the real story. The First Nations Education Act was about micro-managing First Nations schools in exchange for more and steadier financial funding. It was tabled without having given First Nations peoples a chance to look at it and propose changes or amendments.

I suppose I'll finish the book. There is some valuable information and it's always good to know what the enemy is thinking.